Monday, 8 October 2012

Lesser Mell Fell.Lake District.

Sunday morning dawned to the sound of rain hammering off the windows.A truly awful day and conditions where no sane person would even contemplate going up a hill.The water in the streams(becks down here) poured the overnight deluge into  nearby Ullswater.Mind you shopkeepers have to be optimistic about these things.They have to make the best of any situation to make ends meet.Even heavy rain was catered for in Keswick.
A fine selection of outdoor craft. In Scotland I would never dream of going up a hill in conditions this bad but as It was our last day in the Lakes I was looking foreword to it.
Last year Great Mell Fell had rescued a wet day,also our last day of that trip.Little Mell Fell sat nearby,feeling neglected, so we had our eye on that.With driving rain and wind predicted all day ,Alex,drinking his coffee in the hut ,asked if I was still keen.I was.
I captured his expression as I said this.
We had noticed on the map however that a minor road climbed up the flank of Little Mell Fell to around 320 metres where there was a lay by leaving only a short hike up to the summit at 505 metres.I felt more compassion for the poor cattle as they huddled together in a open field with no shelter available.You could actually sense how depressed they were.It was palatable.I had been looking around out of curiosity for horse chestnuts this season but they were few and far between on the trees,pollination being disrupted by the poor summer this year.
Even in the rain the autumnal colours looked magnificent as we set off.

I think this is Great Mell Fell.Little Mell Fell is a carbon copy of this nearby,only without the trees on its slopes for shelter.Two great hills to save for bad weather,although the views are good from the top in fine conditions.
All we could see today was driving rain as we approached the waterlogged summit.A new tick for bagger Alex,so he was happy. So was I as the misery had only lasted an hour.Even with full waterproofs on we were both soaked through by the time we returned to the car.
A few extra photographs to highlight what I love about the Lakes.Even in wet weather the Lakes are beautiful due to the range of habitation merging with the mountain landscapes.I always find Scottish mountains so empty and depressing in bad weather when I know just how many people used to live there,trees covering the slopes and the glens.What we see now,what we tend to think of as 'wilderness' is actually a barren, man made desert devoid of trees,but maybe that's just me.The presence of people in an area can actually enhance the landscape.The Lake District,for example,despite having loads of inhabitants ,is blessed with  countless trees and  deciduous woodlands.We have little pockets of ancient woodlands clinging on here and there... The last remnants of the great wood...the rest is mile after mile of deep, dead, conifer plantations where nature can only cling to the margins.Nature's equivalent of a black hole  on OS maps,only good for timber production,tax evasion,hiding dead bodies and big cat sightings.Having lost most of its trees Scotland seems to collect these un-natural squares of modernity instead.Wind farms being the latest trend to hide and pour your money into.
Let,s See how you like this train of thought that's just occurred to me.
I was going to write a  brief post called 'the last generation 'after the news of the abduction of that little five year old girl in Mid Wales.'The parents there still felt safe enough to let their children play outdoors in line with various bodies recommending this is necessary for proper human development.Who would have thought that then? That one incident sadly may have changed all that as people will naturally think differently about their children's safety.
The generation after mine was probably the last to have complete freedom outdoors.Also the last to know what it was like to spend annual holidays at British seaside resorts.

The great thing about Scottish tenement culture years ago was that it was so practical.It evolved,partly,to minimise space but also to cope with the Scottish climate.I grew up,like millions, in a three level close.When it rained you simply played in the stairwells.Traffic was irrelevant.You could use chalk to write your name if you felt inclined but it washed off.You tried to behave and not to make a lot of noise as that would get you chased outside.When it was dry you played outdoors,everywhere,even miles from home.I was only ever inside the house itself to eat meals.There are still little pockets around where children are like that but they get fewer each year.Media was something your parents looked at occasionally. A tiny black and white box in the corner...or a newspaper.It was of minimal interest to children Except for watching cartoons and jerky puppets on strings.It didn't control our life's.An adult affair mostly.Fast forward 10 years...tenement closes are now covered in graffiti  with the development of spray can paint .. pop culture and  celebrity worship increases with colour TV and vandalism and social problems from shared living becomes rife as people and especially children obtain more freedom and learn to be dismissive of all authority.They no longer eat at a communal table but in front of the television.It becomes the main authority figure dispensing wisdom to the young.The fire becomes electric, killing  race collective memory in an instant. No one even notices that  physiological shift even though it is one of the most profound events in human history. Eventual Solution to increasing anti social behaviour? Knock the tenements and high flats down.Very few basic tenements are left in the big Scottish cities now as no one wants to be that close anymore to their neighbours.The move is towards individual housing with or without gardens.Children and teenagers now start playing in bus shelters in the rain as its one of the few places left to go to outside.The few closes left are locked by door entry systems.Community centres tend to get vandalised and broken into or are too short on funds to open for extended periods.Due to freedom of expression bus shelters get vandalised and are then taken away.The elderly and the infirm at bus stops now stand in the rain like the cattle we observed on Little Mell Fell.This is progress at work.Any New ideas and inventions always seem to have unexpected side effects as well as benefits.That's chaos theory at ground level.Due to the volume of traffic and perceived threat of danger children now play indoors,in boxes, becoming more and more informed/brainwashed ,watching programmes about the outside world  just beyond their doorstep they can only enjoy now with supervision although they can fly to the other side of the world easily enough.They watch other things too.Like it or not insidious,all prevading ,celebrity culture and Internet porn stars quickly become the new inspirational icons as soon as they grow past the telly tubbies stage.Thank god I only had Roy Rodgers, Superman and space exploration to look forward to in my era.Our generation are also lucky Tattoos and piercings were still for south sea pirates in those days as I don't fancy a tongue stud when I,m eating or a nose ring if I get a cold.
I,m not looking at the past through rose tinted glasses.The Jimmy savile case alone proves that many problems were swept under the carpet or were just accepted as part of the culture then,like shipping kids in children's homes off to Australia then abandoning them to their fate,separating travellers children from their parents,supposedly for a better life;Sticking 'fallen girls' in institutions, smoking at the office desk or doctors smoking inside hospitals.Times change and every generation looks back at the last with amazement that things like that went on,not realising that current times will be looked on with equal incredulity.Maybe a future generation will look back enviously at 2012 as a golden age.'The Internet was free?!!!.  You still had summers then ?!! You actually saw real birds ,butterflies and bees?!!! There were hundreds of different shops in every city and town?!! What the hell is a 'High  Street' Anyway? You could actually have a conversation with someone else without  interruptions from a mobile phone? How did you cope?That sounds so scary.'
The Golden age should always be the one you are living in now and each new generation will always find a way to push the boundaries in their own unique style.
Motto? Whatever you,re circumstances try to enjoy life while you can.There will always be threats of some description and frequent ups and downs.The only certainty is that things will never stay the same.

Today's video is very different. Rock climbing at a level beyond insanity.I can just about understand folk that jump out of planes or throw themselves off cliffs as at least they have a parachute. This guy is on a whole different level.The only thing he cant do is fly though give him time.Some of you out there may even have trouble watching this.If you put it on full screen its breathtaking as that puts you beside him in a situation your mind may not be able to handle.Even as a former rock climber myself this is mental.This is certainly not a dull video.Hopefully I don't even have to say 'dont try this at home.' You will die. National Geographic now have a fully archived collection of all their magazines on line with new inter active video segments.Well worth visiting.


Ken said...

That video freaked me out!

At the start of your post - as you set off in the rain - to walk with only rain for a view - I was going to ask - WHY?

Having watched that video - WHY? - just doesn't seem enough anymore.

Being one of that generation who went "out to play" couldn't agree more. :D

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ken.
Because Its the job of every new generation to cast yesterdays legends aside and come up with some of their own.Frank Sinatra did it to Bing Crosby.David did it to Goliath.
30 years from now soloing that route might be looked on as 'normal' for elite climbers.

Robert Craig said...

The Mells are a good heading home bag. Did you go to the standing stones to their east - a good atmospheric spot.

The Glebe Blog said...

Shame about the rain Bob. I think you cheated and used a facsimile of Alex, I doubt he's that handsome !
I like your refection of the past. I was only recently commenting on communications. Technology's not all bad, for instance looking at your excellent posts.
But very few people these days have the time to stop and talk. That art does still exist here in Galloway though.
As for kids out playing. We were ok so long as we got back for tea, any later and we were in trouble. I might have said this before, but me and my two cousins all of us around 10 or 11 decided we'd walk the six miles to climb Falkland Hill. We were late home that day.

Saw the video a few months back. Had to clench my buttocks then.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Robert.
It might be a good spot but we couldnt see much on the summit apart from driving rain and just wanted back into the car as quickly as possible.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.
It was just a few ideas off the top of my head.
Anytime I see one of my younger mates nowadays his bloody phone goes.Might as well be in the pub on my own.I'd hate to be a youngster dating again as most young girls I see always have a phone constantly at their ear.It must be almost impossible to get their attention.
Watched the Rufus Wainwright video.Very good version.

Carol said...

Still laughing at the pic of Alex - where is that? I've never seen it! Little Mell Fell has better views towards the Ullswater Fells in my opinion than Great Mell. I got totally ensnared on Great Mell in all those bloody trees - never found any kind of path until the descent.

As for today - I really, really don't understand the celeb culture/worship thing. I joined 'Amway' for a while (pyramid-type sales) and was told I should attend and worship at all the seminars where the more successful salesfolks told their (same old, boring) stories. The others thought they were some kind of Gods - they couldn't understand they were just ordinary people. Needless to say I soon gave it all up.

Oh and the piercings - I really don't understand them. I've thought, like you said, that those nose rings must be a bloody nightmare with a cold - ughhh!! Richard calls them 'fishing tackle accidents' ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol.
Gargoyle was outside a house near a pub we visited.Apart from anything else Nose and ear rings are the first obvious things to go for in any fight,something young people should always be aware of if they get into one.
I liked the woodland up Great Mell Fell as we stayed dry almost to the summit.

Carol said...

That's exactly what I've always thought about piercings and why I've never had my ears pierced. I've been known to get into ructions (which may or may not degenerate into scuffles) a lot (I never start them honest) and always thought they would just rip my ear lobes off if I had earrings in them!